Whether you drive a beautiful Class A Tiffin Phaeton or smaller Class B Winnebago, it will need its oil changed on a regular basis. This chore isn’t particularly difficult and with the right tools, space, and time, you can change the oil in your RV before your next big adventure.
Before You Begin: Do You have the Space for DIY RV Maintenance?
You don’t need a garage with a lift big enough for your rig, but even a smaller RV needs a decent amount of space to get the oil changed.
You will need a flat surface to park the rig so that the oil will drain to the lowest point of the vehicle.
You will need a drain pan large enough to catch all the oil. Some large diesel engines use nearly 30 quarts!
If you are working on a Class A, you may need a stepladder to be able to reach the oil filler and the oil filter.
For full-timers, your RV park may not allow you to service your rig on site. It may be easier to work with your local truck or RV service centre.
If you have the elbow room and the right equipment, roll up your sleeves and grab some tools.
How Often Should I Change My RV Engine Oil?
Every RV should have its oil changed at least once a year. Even if you have it parked at your campground year-round, the oil and engine undergo changes due to the extreme temperatures of Canadian winters. Changing the oil ensures that any contaminants are removed before they can harm your engine.
If you are on the road most of the time, your diesel pusher may be able to go as far as 40,000 km between changes. However, if you only take it out for a few months in the summer, a good guideline for most gas and diesel engines is every 5,000 km or that once-a-year gold standard.
Always check your motorhome owner’s manual for recommended service intervals or ask your local RV maintenance centre for tips.
Also, don’t forget about changing the oil in your generator! It has an engine, too.
What You Need to Change the Oil in your RV
Before you grab the leftover oil from your classic convertible, stop! Read your owner’s manual for the RV engine type, the recommended oil weight for the current season, and the API standard for type of oil. Newer diesel engines that run with the DEF system must use the proper engine oil to protect the exhaust system.
Supplies Needed for an Oil Change:
- Nitrile gloves and safety glasses
- Proper screwdriver and torque wrench to remove and install drain plug
- Oil filter wrench
- The recommended amount of clean oil
- Large drip pan
- Jugs for recycling the oil
- Rolling creeper to get under your vehicle more comfortably
How to Change the Oil in my RV
1. Warm Up the Engine
Take the RV out for a few miles to heat up the engine. The helps to thin the oil for faster and more complete draining. It also helps to suspend particulates.
2. Drain the Oil
Most RVs have engines sized for trucks. The drain plug will be secured with either a screw head or hex bolt. Position your drain pan under the drain plug, loosen it with a wrench, and remove the plug. Let the oil drain until you have just a slow drip. Your big rig will be pouring out nearly 30 litres of oil. Be prepared to catch it!
3. Change the Oil Filter
Place a small pan under the oil filter. It’s going to leak oil when you loosen it.
Use an oil filter wrench to twist it loose and dispose of it appropriately. Wipe down the seat. Use a dab of oil to wet the rim of the new filter and put the new O-ring in place. Twist the new filter back into place. Tighten it using the oil filter wrench.
4. Put Back the Oil Drain Plug
Use a torque wrench to properly reinstall the drain plug. Follow the guidelines in your owner’s manual to make sure it is tight enough to stay in place for the rough roads ahead. If it is too tight, you can deform the plug.
5. Refill the Oil
Find the oil filler at the top of your engine. Pour in the recommended amount of oil–double-checking that it is the proper weight and API standard.
6. Run the Engine and Let it Cool
Once you have checked for obvious leaks, turn the engine on and let it run for 10 to 15 minutes. Then let it cool. This allows the fresh oil to fully circulate through the engine and drain back down.
7. Recheck Oil Levels and Properly Dispose of the Used Oil
Use your dipstick the test the level. It should read near but not over the full mark. If it is low, add another litre of oil and check again.
Congratulations! Your RV is ready to roll for the season! For more tips and ideas for maintaining your rig and living the best RV lifestyle, visit our blog at Wayfarer Insurance Group.